February 27, 2022
We’ve had so much fun with this little series and today we’re going to wrap it up with our last essential five. We know that good systems are absolutely vital to running a thriving design business. You absolutely cannot do it without them!
So here are our essential design business systems 11-15.
This is something that we both taught at the tertiary level. Creating unique and original concepts is an intuitive creative process, but with good systems you can fast track that process and ensure that you get high quality results every single time. This system is aligned to discovering the client’s goals and objectives and distilling what it is you want to achieve for them. It produces a consistency of output so that any potential client who views your portfolio can see that you create innovative, beautiful work for every project you sign on to.
It’s not enough to just rely on raw talent. In fact, many successful designers aren’t actually naturally gifted designers! Of course a strong aesthetic and creative vision is going to help. But the people who succeed in design are the people who have a systemized approach to their work and know how to get results every time.
We have some amazing techniques for creating this system to share with our Academy students. But if you’re looking at designing your own creative system, start by breaking it down. What do you do every single time you develop concepts? What are the steps? Start structuring it so that you can see how it’s going to unfold with each project.
And remember that this structure will also inform your time tracking system and your quoting system. When you really understand your process and have a clear idea about how long a project will take you, your quoting and time scheduling will be more accurate. This is what we want you to develop – an interconnected set of systems forming a cohesive and well functioning approach to your business.
This system is the big kahuna! The one that gives you that whole-hearted ‘Yes!’ from your clients when you present your work. You must develop a really considered approach to this that makes that ‘Yes!’ undeniable. That makes it obvious that you have really listened to the client. That you’ve totally understood the brief and have executed it at a high level.
This system should be simple but powerful. You don’t want to spend too much time on individual presentations for every client, but you do want to absolutely convince them. So develop a system you can easily tailor to each presentation, one that builds on your lead generating and briefing systems, each step paving the way for the next so by the time you get to the ‘yes’ there’s really no other answer they can give.
Having a client nurture system takes the angst out of communicating and corresponding with clients. If clients keep ghosting you or don’t seem to respect you, you can be guaranteed that this is a system you need to work on. A client nurture system is all about building connection.
A system that schedules reaching out and touching base regularly fosters the trust and connection that is essential to developing long-term client relationships. This system makes you a part of the client’s business and the client a part of yours.
You don’t want to spend huge blocks of time finding and converting leads so that you have an income. You want to build a solid foundation of repeat business, where new clients are delightful additions, not desperately needed for your survival. So build this into your business. Create an actual procedure that you follow systematically with every project or every client.
This is something that a lot of design studios don’t have in place, and yet it’s an amazing source of future revenue and sustainable growth for your business.
Create a system that builds in reaching out to people to ask them about becoming a referral partner. Ask your clients to advocate for you and create a referral process for them to use.
So many designers feel too shy to ask for referrals from their clients or worry it will make them appear desperate for business. Building a referral process into your business alleviates this problem by creating an easy, professional step for both of you to take.
High-end designers and high-end brand studios thrive off referrals and repeat business. It’s really important that you have a piece of this pie. So make it part of your business system.
This is a system for the way that you communicate with your clients. It includes having prepared emails and scripted responses ready to go for situations that will pop up in business that incorporates your unique tone of voice, and your individual messaging. You don’t want to be caught on the back foot and respond off the cuff in a way that is inconsistent with your boundaries or your business style, so it’s important to have a system that allows you to respond effortlessly in a way that remains true to your business vision.
If you’d like some help with this, we encourage you to check out our ‘Nicely said’ Client Scripts Kit. It’s a digital download PDF that contains 40 scripts ready to go as is, or better yet, easily customisable to incorporate your unique voice. We cover 40 difficult client situations that you’re likely to face regularly, and give you the exact wording for how to respond, whether by email or in person. So if you’ve ever wondered, ‘How would Kris and Don handle this?’ you’ll know. But, we encourage you to add the words, sign offs and little quirks that will make them your own. Because this is your messaging.
If you are struggling with understanding and developing your brand voice, we’ll dive into that with you in the Design and Prosper Academy, which we hope you know is kicking off now! If you’d like to join us, head over to https://www.designandprosper.co/theacademy and sign up!
Honestly, it was tough to narrow it down to 15, because there are quite a few others that coordinate with these to build a cohesive overall structure, but we think this gives you a solid place to get started.
And if you love the idea of having beautifully functioning systems in your graphic design business, check out the Design & Prosper Academy! In The Academy, we support you to design your individual version of these 15 systems as well as teaching you all the other essential parts that will form your well-functioning whole.
In the meantime, why don’t you go through these last three posts and use them as a checklist to have a look at the processes you have in place in your business right now. And if any of them are missing, start creating! Or come and see us for some help. Whatever you decide, trust us, good systems are the way to go!
Kris & Donna xo
You can listen to the full episode by clicking the player below or by searching for Design and Prosper on your favourite player.
[00:00:00] Kris: hello
[00:00:02] Donna: And welcome to our podcast today. The final in our three-part series of essential systems for thriving graphic design business.
We’ve had so much fun with this little series and today we are sharing our last five. So if you are just joining us today for the first time, make sure you go back to episode 56 and 57. 56 has the first 5, 57 has the next five. And today we have our last five.
[00:00:32] Kris: And I just want to say also that we’re sharing 15 systems, right? That we believe are essential, but there are many more, there is so many more that you can have and that we share in the design and prosper academy. So if you want to join us, we’re kicking off now, so head over to designandprosper.co/theacademy that’s designed and prosper.co forward slash the academy, and make sure you get all the information over there because it is a beautiful program and we just love to help designers to thrive in business through all these systems and the entire roadmap that you need.
[00:01:19] Donna: Think of it exactly like that. It’s a roadmap. If you wake up one day and say, I would like to run my own graphic design business, what do I need to do? Contact us, because we will just basically share with you our entire roadmap. Here it is. These are the systems you will need to operate a beautiful functioning, thriving graphic design business.
It’s all there for you. We’ve done all of the legwork. We’ve done all of the working out for you. It’s there. It’s beautiful. It’s concise. All you need to do is show up. Add your brand, your beautiful, considered thoughtful brand and tweak and modify the systems to suit your personality and your brand voice.
And you are good to go. But like Kris said, there’s so many more systems within these 15 systems. These are just the essential systems that we’re sharing with you over this three part series. So there’s lots of systems within these systems. There’s lots of moving parts. It’s an ecosystem. And that’s what we share with you in the academy as well, this whole beautiful business ecosystem.
[00:02:25] Kris: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And like Don said, we’ve finessed this and honed this over decades. Many, many experiences, many, many mistakes, many different ways of doing things. We’ve done the legwork we have put in the time we’ve seen what works, we’ve seen what doesn’t work. And so this is it here for you so that you can just go and thrive.
[00:02:52] Donna: Yeah, Absolutely. So kicking off today is system 11. This system is a concept developing system. So it’s the creative system. And this is something that Kris and I taught at the tertiary level. We are graphic designers, as you know, by trade.
We have been graphic designers our whole careers, and we have taught the fundamentals of designing and, and being able to conceptualize really discerning design work. So this system is really exciting.
[00:03:24] Kris: So you might be thinking, how can you turn creative concepts into a system? Well, there is a way there is a way that can help you fast-track your creative results and your creative outcomes. And it’s a system that’s aligned to the briefing system.
It’s aligned to the client’s goals and the objectives and what you want to achieve there. Even though creating concepts is an intuitive creative process. There definitely systems you can implement to fast track and to make sure that you get high quality results every single time.
[00:04:00] Donna: And that’s the key every single time on repeat. So we’re not just hitting and missing and, you know, having an absolute brainwave one project and then falling flat, the next. Having a really beautiful approach to your creative conceptual realization for each project is really important for that. It’s really important to make sure that you have that consistency with the output that you’re generating from your business. So each of your clients can have a look at your portfolio and go every single time, this designer is absolutely innovative. They’re high quality. They’re highly conceptual, it’s beautiful. Every single time. And having a system around that will ensure it.
[00:04:46] Kris: Hmm. And so you can develop your own conceptual systems. We have some amazing techniques to share with the academy students. But if you’re looking at your own creative system, start breaking it down. What do you do every single time you develop concepts, start breaking down the steps, start seeing what is on repeat for you and start structuring it so that you can, if you go back to the previous podcast episode where we’re talking about scheduling in. Start to see how it’s going to unfold with each project so that you have some structure in your business. Because if you do not have structure in your design business, it will unravel. It really will unravel. It’s just not tenable. It’s not sustainable. So creative process systems, very essential.
[00:05:34] Donna: And the creative process system can also help to inform your time tracking system and your quoting system. And, and, and so, as we’ve been saying, all of these systems are really integrated. When you really understand your process and have a clear system and have a definitive boundary around how long things take you, you’re quoting is more effective. Your quoting is more accurate. Your time scheduling is more accurate. You know, I need a morning to do this particular thing. So all of these beautiful moving parts are linked. They’re living and breathing together in this beautiful ecosystem.
[00:06:14] Kris: As lecturers, we always prided ourselves in nurturing our students to wonderful results. So we took it upon our shoulders, to get maybe a C grade student up to a distinction. It was always possible even with students who may not have had raw creative or raw natural talent for style, and those, you know, designers out there that just have it. They have the it factor. There were students that didn’t, but we could still get them to really high, high quality of design, really professional standards, beautiful conceptual and creative results, through systems.
[00:06:54] Donna: so possible. I love that. I love that reminder. That was one of my favorite things to do for people who were sort of sitting at a credit and looking at the high distinction students in the class and going, wow, you know, am I going to be able to get there? And then watching them just use the creative process systems and go, I’m doing this, I’m doing this. I’m actually being a really discerning high-end designer. And it would light Kris and types of see the results, those type of results.
[00:07:23] Kris: It’s not just natural raw talent, you know? most successful designers, aren’t always natural, raw talent designers. The people who have a systemized approach to their work and they get results every time. All right. And now the system, system 12 is a very important one. It is concept presentations and concepts selling essentially. So selling your work. Selling your design concepts!
[00:07:49] Donna: I’m excited! To me, this is the system that is the big kahuna. This is the one, this is the one. We want that full body yes from our clients when we present our work. When we throw our heart down on the table and see it thumping there on the table, we want that full body yes. And having a really beautiful system for delivering these concepts and your heart and soul, it leads to that full body yes, because it’s undeniable. Having this really considered approach to how you present your work makes it undeniable. Makes it obvious that you have really listened to the client. You’ve really understood the brief and you’ve executed the brief to such a high level.
[00:08:33] Kris: Yeah, so as part of a presentation system, there’s the visual element of course, but there’s also the written element, which is really important to have a system in place to make that process easy for you as well, because, it can be time consuming. So we want to be able to shortcut that time it takes to get a really powerful absolute yes presentation in front of a client. And we want to have those results time and time again, we don’t want to be like, oh, you know, biting our nails going, are they going to accept it? I’m only getting a 50% hit rate here or even less. No, we want to have super high yes rate. A hundred percent yes rate. It’s totally possible.
[00:09:16] Donna: Absolutely possible. So, yes. 13. Client nurture system. This is a beautiful one. Having a client nurture system, takes the angst out of communicating and corresponding with clients because you’ll have something in place that allows you to freely and without any effort or thought, communicate and nurture your clients. So, this is a beautiful system. We love this system.
[00:09:46] Kris: Yes. And, if you haven’t had a chance to come to our master class, we’ve got a free masterclass and I’m not exactly sure if there’ll be finished by the time this is, this is out. But if it’s, if the stars align and you get to go into our masterclass, just head to designandprosper.co/masterclass, and you’ll be able to see if there’s an available date for you or not, but we give some really amazing solutions in that for client nurture systems. There’s some lovely surprises in there for you in that masterclass. But it is so essential to have client nurture because it prevents a lot of client problems. It prevents a lot of the, you know, the client ghosting or, and a lot of times client ghosting is a direct result of the designer and not holding the client’s hand enough and not reaching out regularly or not touching base regularly and, and checking in, you know, but these things have to be systemized. Otherwise it’s a bit wishy-washy, you know, it’s like random, oh, I might contact them two weeks or I might contact them in a couple of days or whatever it is. It really does need to be systemized and exactly what you’re going to do for each client needs to be systemised as well.
[00:10:56] Donna: Yeah, absolutely. It builds on the know, love and trust factor, and it’s that trust clients know that they’re going to hear from you. They hear from you before they have to think about reaching out to you. It’s it’s that type of thing that really creates that respect that they have for you. And that fosters that long-term relationship that we talk about as well. Kris and I, both of our design businesses nurtured long, long long-term client relationships. And it’s because of our client nurture systems that we are able to make that claim because our clients did love us. They did know that we would be in touch with them when we needed to be that we would have their back, that we would hold their hand and they trusted that they were a very important part of the whole process and they trusted us with their beautiful work. So it’s an important system to have in place for future business. It’s really, really important, nurturing the business you have, you don’t have to go out and find it. You don’t have to go out and convert that lead. They are there. They are wanting to work with you. And they’re going to want more work, you know, there’s more where that came from, as long as you nurture them, make them feel seen, make them feel loved. They’re part of your business.
[00:12:09] Kris: Yeah, I think that if you’ve got a problem where you feel like clients, aren’t respecting your opinion enough, a lot of the times that’s a lack of connection or a lack of initial nurture. So if we really amp up the nurture and really think about what can I do as part of my nurture systems, what can I do that might be a bit unique for my business too, that makes my business stand out a little bit more from all the other design studios out there as well. So a client nurture system is really something that needs to be intentional. So that’s, that’s a lot of the thing with a lot of these systems is being intentional about something, putting it in writing, putting it as an actual policy or procedure or a system that you actually follow time and time again with every project or every client.
[00:12:55] Donna: Yep. All of these systems, if you do that, you have a business that then can be scalable and we don’t need to go and conquer the world and have 40 staff and things like that. Scalable in a way that you can just get someone in to help you. Like, if you have a beautiful policies and procedures and everything set out for somebody to come in and take a little bit of weight of the business for you, it’s so much easier when you have all this set up. It’s all set out. This is how I do it. You know, this is how I do it. It’s right there. It’s all in writing. Makes it easy for you. It makes it easy for somebody who’s coming in to help you or staff that you’d like to hire or whatever.
[00:13:34] Kris: That’s exactly right. Alright, System 14 is a client referral system. This is something that a lot of design studios don’t have in place, which is such an amazing source of revenue, future revenue for your business and a source of sustainable growth for your business as well. But actually having something in place where you reach out to people and actually talk to them and ask them about becoming a referral partner.
[00:14:02] Donna: Yeah, absolutely. And I think the thing is people will, when they’ve worked with you, when you’ve built that know love and trust, when you’ve delivered that beautiful high-end result. They’re going to want to be an advocate for you. They’re going to want to be that person to shout to the rooftops and then having a referral system on top of that, it just makes that whole exchange really elevated. They’re being seen for being a beautiful advocate for you, which is really, really lovely. So yeah, having a referral system in place is powerful. And I think a lot of designers that are certainly a lot of the designers that we’ve met in the academy in our one to ones are a little bit shy about having a system in place for this. But when you have a system in place, To discuss with a client. You can actually be a little bit removed from the emotion of it because it’s all set in place. It’s a system you have. You lean on the system. You, you allow the system to support you. We talk about systems supporting us a lot in business, and if you have that all ready, you’ve thought about it. It’s discerning, it’s outlined. It’s proven, hopefully, you’ve tested it. Then it’s there to support you and allow you to be able to have these conversations with your clients and ask for things and be prepared to put yourself out there. And it helps you to be a little bit more courageous when you’ve got a system to sort of lean into.
[00:15:30] Kris: Hmm. Yeah, for sure. And, we can tell you from our experience of charging high prices and being a high end designer and being a part of a high end brand studio, high-end design studios really thrive off referrals and repeat business. That’s how they thrive. So it’s really important. You really need a piece of this pie if you haven’t already. So make it part of your business system.
[00:16:01] Donna: And the final system, Kris, our final system in this mini-series is a communication system, sort of like the creme de la creme, isn’t it? Communication is the be all and end all.
[00:16:15] Kris: So this is about having a system for the way that you communicate to your audience, to your clients. Having prepared scripts, having canned emails, having responses ready to go for situations that will pop up in business and incorporating your unique tone of voice, your unique way of speaking and way of doing things and your messaging into it as well. That’s really important. Your uniqueness should shine through, but having it as a system. So that once again, if you have other people come on board, they know how to communicate like you would, you know, so the business isn’t solely reliant on you. It’s about shifting gears into that CEO mindset again, not having an employee mindset where everything’s on your plate, everything’s on your shoulders. If you do have a communication system, it makes it so much easier. Even for potentially outsourcing social media, for outsourcing email responses and all those sorts of things.
[00:17:15] Donna: It’s all about your voice, this system. It is all about who you are, who you say you are and what you say you do. And it’s having that on repeat and it’s ensuring that there’s no message being diluted because you’re saying things differently on one platform to another platform. If you have a communication system, it will be united. It will be consistent. And you’ll be saying the same thing, putting the same message out there in slightly different ways, but it will be the essence of who you are, because it will be your brand voice. And that’s really important for trust. If you want clients to trust you, that’s super important for you to do that, to have communication that is consistent all the time.
[00:18:01] Kris: Yeah, absolutely. And if you are struggling with what to say, and you don’t quite understand your brand voice, we definitely dive into that with the academy, very deep into your messaging and getting all the scripts and all that sort of thing set up beautifully for your business. But we also have our nicely said client script product.
[00:18:22] Donna: Oh, yes.
[00:18:23] Kris: Yes, it has 40 scripts ready to go in it as well, which you can swap out a word here and there. We cover 40 difficult client situations that have popped up for us. And we have said it exactly the way that we would respond to these situations. So if you’ve ever wondered, what would Kris and Don say, what would they do? This is how we do it. And there’s lots and lots of suggestions, lots of business tips. You’ll get so many ahas and insights out of this product. It’s a digital download PDF. It’s just a game-changer.
[00:18:57] Donna: is an absolute game-changer. We’ve had some feedback from the people who have already purchased it. And they have said, oh my goodness, that’s one facet of my business now that I do not have to worry about. And like we were saying, it’s important that your voice is unique. So when you purchase a product, like our nicely said scripts kit, the essence of what needs to be said is there for you. The message of what needs to be communicated, the boundary that needs to be communicated is there for you. How you say it and how you inject your personality, is up to you. You can swap words out. You can have a particular sign-off and that’s consistent for all of your communication. As long as it’s appropriate for the trickier ones. You can inject some little adjectives and words that you would use the way that you would engage with your client, the way that you would speak to your clients. So, these scripts, they’re a script kit and they’re ready to go. So if you don’t even want to think about it, it’s literally copy it out and paste it into your email body. They are kind, they are respectful. They are discerning and they are beautifully written, but you can also inject your personality in there as well. So you don’t have to feel like it’s a script. You can take it and make your own, which is what we really love about the way that we’ve created this script kit is that you can take it on as your own. You can inject your personality in there. Absolutely.
[00:20:27] Kris: Yeah. is an absolute game-changer. We’ve had some feedback from the people who have already purchased it. And they have said, oh my goodness, that’s one facet of my business now that I do not have to worry about. And like we were saying, it’s important that your voice is unique. So when you purchase a product, like our nicely said scripts kit, the essence of what needs to be said is there for you. The message of what needs to be communicated, the boundary that needs to be communicated is there for you. How you say it and how you inject your personality, is up to you. You can swap words out. You can have a particular sign-off and that’s consistent for all of your communication. As long as it’s appropriate for the trickier ones. You can inject some little adjectives and words that you would use the way that you would engage with your client, the way that you would speak to your clients. So, these scripts, they’re a script kit and they’re ready to go. So if you don’t even want to think about it, it’s literally copy it out and paste it into your email body. They are kind, they are respectful. They are discerning and they are beautifully written, but you can also inject your personality in there as well. So you don’t have to feel like it’s a script. You can take it and make your own, which is what we really love about the way that we’ve created this script kit is that you can take it on as your own. You can inject your personality in there. Absolutely.
So what we want to create and offer to you are things that we wish we had, we wish we something like this back in the day, because it was like, what do we say when this, this doozy of a situation happens? So we’ve got things like, a client will say, what if I don’t like what you create, for example, or, you’re too expensive, you know, like you’ve sent a proposal and now they’re saying you’re too expensive. Or what if you’ve got a client who’s like a talky talky, talky client, and is taking up so much time in meetings and you don’t know how to address that. These are the sort of things that we’ve got covered. All the client tricky situations are in this kit. So grab the kit. It is yours if you want it today, you can have it in your hot little hands today. Head over to designandprosper.co/nicelysaidscripts and you can purchase it and it will be all yours. And, yeah, we’ll put that in the show notes as well. So you don’t have to remember the URL.
[00:21:30] Donna: Yep. All right, beautiful community. So that’s it. That’s a wrap on our 15 essential systems for a thriving graphic design business. Like we said, there’s lots more moving parts. There’s lots more layers. There is a lot more that we address in the academy, but this should get you started. If you take apart the last three podcast episodes and have a look at your systems in your business right now and ask yourself, have I got a system for that? Have I got a system of that? Give yourself a little checklist and just see what you’ve got out of these essential systems. And then if you haven’t got them well, you can start creating, or you can come and see us. But this is what we recommend as the bare minimum to have.
[00:22:18] Kris: Yeah, for sure. Hope that is helpful for you. Shine, some light on this, because once you know about this, once you realize that this is the key, this is going to unlock the key to your success in your business. There’ll be no stopping you. So, get in and start looking through a different lens in your business and see what can be systemized.
[00:22:42] Donna: Yeah. Awesome. Okay
[00:22:45] Kris: Alright everyone, bye!
© Copyright 2022 Design & Prosper Pty Ltd